4th Week of Easter (F): Acts 13.26-33 and John 14.1-6
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
My mother has a near pathological fear of getting lost while driving to a strange place. Giving her detailed directions does no good. Starting her out from somewhere familiar and leading her step by step to the unfamiliar does no good. She doesn’t even like to drive with someone in the car who knows where they are going! Once she cannot recognize a place, she panics and the way is lost. This is true for us spiritually as well: when our lives between Right Here/Now and Then/There become alienated from God in sin, our hope of reaching our destination becomes weaker and weaker, less and less sure. Our destination does not change. Nor does the way there. What changes is our certainty that we are getting anywhere, that we are going anywhere. And so, our hearts become troubled; our trust in God’s promises of showing us the way becomes thin. And we panic.
Geographically speaking, there is a way to everywhere, a way to anywhere you want to go and getting lost is not about not knowing your destination but about not knowing your chosen path. The same is not true for us as followers of Christ. There is only one way to our destination. And a failure on our part to know our path is also a failure to know our destination. Why, you ask? Because for us, the Path and the Destination are the same. Jesus is the Way and he is the Truth. Getting to him with him is our Life. For us, to be lost is death.
Thomas, no doubt as confused as the rest of us on hearing Jesus tell us about mansions in heaven and coming back for us and taking us with him, asks a question that any of us would ask: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Think about it. Your best friend tells you that she is going to go set up cabin for a weekend retreat. She calls you up. Tells you about the cabin and then says, rather cryptically, “Where I am going you know the way.” First question out of your mouth is going to be…? “Um, where are you?” Second question: “how do I get there?” If she said to you in reply: “I am the destination and I am the way here and your trip to me through me is your life,” if she said this, well, you would likely hang up the phone and never, ever talk to this creepy friend again!
Thomas’ asks his anxious question about not knowing the destination or the way and Jesus replies, “I am the way and the truth and the life,” we think this is profound; enlightening even. And it is. But how is this enlightening and why should knowing this calm our troubled hearts? Geographically speaking, again, we can panic when we do not know the way to our destination, or when we do not know our destination well enough to get there via many ways. For us, there is only one destination and only one path to that destination. Jesus. He is where we are going (God the Father) and he is how we are going to get there (God the Son) and getting to him with him is our life in him (God the Holy Spirit). And no one comes to the Father except through him. This means that Jesus is more than a good model of ethical behavior; he is exemplary, but he is also that which is exemplified: the best, the truest, and the most beautiful.
Do not panic! Jesus promises: “I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am going you may also be.” What is there for us to fear then? Jesus is the car, the driver, the road, the GPS Navigator; he is the street signs, the signal lights, and he is our destination. Riding with him is our Life. All we need to do is roll down our window and yell to those we see passing by, “Alleluia! He is risen! And there’s room for a few more in the back!”